Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

How to Apply

How to Apply

Admission Requirements:

Admission is highly selective; students will be accepted on the basis of manuscript samples and past educational experience in creative writing.  Applications for the two annual admissions cycles are due on September 1st and February 1st.  All application materials, including letters of recommendation and transcripts, must be postmarked by the application deadline for that admissions cycle, though later applications may be considered in exceptional cases or until all places are filled. If application material are late, and the class has been filled, we will hold that application for the next round of admissions.

Please consider applying early. It is not uncommon for transcripts to take six to eight weeks, and sometimes longer, to be sent out. Often in the summer it is difficult to get letters of recommendation, as many college faculty travel during the summer break. It is in your best interests to obtain these materials as early as possible. However, we do not consider early applications for early admission; your completed application will be considered at the same time as all other applications.

Transferring Students

Incoming Stonecoast students may transfer one semester's work from another graduate creative writing program into the Stonecoast MFA program, with the approval of the Director. One semester of graduate work in literature may apply towards the third semester, with the approval of the Director.  Students interested in transferring credit should mention this fact in their application and should include relevant transcripts.

For admission, please submit the following to:

The Office of Graduate Admissions

University of Southern Maine

P.O. Box 9300,

Portland, ME 04104

Items addressed to Stonecoast MFA will have to be forwarded to The Office of Graduate Admissions, which could delay your application. We do not accept any application materials in the Stonecoast MFA office.

  • A 1-2 page essay describing your writing background, your reasons for wanting to enroll in our MFA program, and your goals after graduation. This may be pasted in to the online application or mailed in separately with the writing sample.
  • A sample of your writing (see guidelines below), clearly marked to indicate the genre in which you are applying: Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry or Popular Fiction. Manuscripts will not be returned; do not send originals.
  • Two copies of official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work.
  • A 500-750 word statement discussing the work of at least three writers in the genre in which you are applying who have influenced your own writing. This statement may involve close readings, critical analysis, and/or a more personal discussion of why and how you value these writers. Ideally, it should convey a sense of the literary heritage in which you situate your own work and of your skill as a reader.
  • Application fee of $65.00 paid online.

GRE scores are not required. Please do not use any staples when submitting your application.

Writing Samples

For Creative Nonfiction, submit a sample of memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, or longform narrative nonfiction of 20 pages or fewer. Creative Nonfiction for this program does not include book reviews, letters, short journalism features or job-related documents such as memos, legal briefs, etc. If you send an excerpt from a memoir, please include a brief synopsis of the entire work.

For Fiction, submit a short story or novel excerpt, maximum of 20 pages. If you choose to submit a novel excerpt, please include a short synopsis.

For Poetry, submit a maximum of ten poems.

For Popular Fiction, submit a piece of fantasy, horror, mystery, science fiction, romance, or thriller, maximum 20 pages. If you submit a novel excerpt, please include a brief synopsis.

All writing samples should be double-spaced, with 1 inch margins, in 12 point font.  You may submit as many short pieces of Fiction, Popular Fiction or Creative Nonfiction as you like, provided that they do not exceed the 20 page limit.



Students and faculty must have Internet capabilities on home computers in order to participate in Web-based workshops and conferences. In addition, all Stonecoat MFA students must use their email address while enrolled in Stonecoast MFA, as all communication from University of Southern Maine will be sent to that address. Stonecoast also has a Blackboard community, where we post community documents, host chat forums, and maintain a calendar of important program deadlines.

University of Southern Maine  

The University of Southern Maine, with campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, has gained a national reputation for the breadth and quality of programs that serve the population center of the state. Over 4,800 students attend classes during the summer and the academic year enrollment is over 11,000. Approximately 2,000 students are graduate students.

For More Information

Stonecoast MFA applications go through the Graduate Office of the University of Southern Maine.  The graduate office will be processing your application, so if you have questions about the application process or about the status of your application BEFORE the deadline date, please contact USM Graduate Admissions at (207) 780-4386.  With special questions, you may contact USM Graduate Admissions Assistant Director Lisa Sweet at

The Stonecoast MFA staff are also happy to talk with you at any time to address your questions. For questions about the status of your application AFTER the deadline date, please contact Robin Talbot at If you have questions about the distinctive academic character of Stonecoast, or if academic questions or general academic issues affect your application, you may contact the Director at